Christmas in the summer 2

Christmas in the Summer

Highland Park Simmer DimBeing a dedicated Scotch whisky drinker, I normally don’t do that well in summer. Traditionally, Scotch whisky is associated with cooler weather, and the past month here in London has not provided me with a suitable environment to sit around in a comfortable armchair with a dram, unless I’ve had a large fan pointed at my face. However, Scotch whisky is much more versatile than it’s given credit for – here’s how I’ve been surviving the summer in three easy steps:

1) Long Drinks

It may be blasphemy to some, but whisky is a great ingredient in long drinks. When it’s summer outside, you want something to slake your thirst and cool you down, and as long as you choose a whisky with a punchy-enough flavour, you can stretch things out without hiding its character.

My summer drinking kicked off on the summer solstice on 21 June. It was the longest day of the year and after an afternoon of rain, the clouds cleared and we had a long evening of summer sun. In true, decadent whisky-blogger fashion, I was on a Dalston rooftop drinking Highland Park cocktails. My favourite of the night was the simplest:

Simmer Dim
50ml Highland Park 12 Years Old
25ml elderflower cordial
25ml lemon juice
Soda water

Fill a tall glass with ice, add the whisky, cordial and juice and stir. Top up with soda water and garnish with a lemon slice.

The sweetness of the elderflower and sourness of the lemon cancel each other out, and the soft smokiness of the Highland Park peeks out around the edges. One for warm evenings and hot afternoons.

2) Classic Cocktails

While the Prohibition-style cocktail obsession is (thankfully) starting to die down, I’m still a fan of the classics – simple, short drinks developed and popularised around the time that showcase a spirit rather than hiding it under layers of fruit juice or cream. American whiskeys are the most commonly used in my favourite recipes but Prohibition opened the door for illicit spirits imported from overseas, including Scotch whisky.

The simplest of the classics, although a drink that’s easy to make badly, is the Old Fashioned. It’s just three ingredients – spirit, bitters and sugar – but from those humble origins there’s a huge range of drinks you can create. Sticking with Scotch whisky, you want one that will stand up to being both chilled and diluted, as well as not get overtaken by the addition of sugar and bitters. I generally look for a punchy blended whisky, without the subtlety that will disappear when cooled and without too much spice, so the bitters add a flavour rather than amplifying something already present in the drink. Cutty Sark Prohibition fits the bill perfectly, beefing up Cutty’s regular easy-drinking style with more weight and a higher bottling strength of 50% ABV.

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